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Telling Your Boss That You’re a Surrogate: Tips for Gestational Carriers

The beautiful act of gestational surrogacy allows women to help intended parents build their families. As a gestational carrier, you’ll carry a pregnancy for another couple, bringing an incredible gift of life. This journey, however, extends beyond the physical aspects. It’s important to consider how your work life might be impacted and how to have an open and productive conversation with your employer.

Understanding your legal rights

Knowing your rights can empower you as you navigate this conversation. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides job protection and unpaid leave for qualifying medical and family reasons, including pregnancy-related conditions.

To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must have worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and your company must have at least 50 employees within 75 miles. If you meet these requirements, FMLA protects your job security and requires your employer to reinstate you to the same or an equivalent position upon your return. Pregnancy qualifies as a serious health condition under FMLA, and surrogates may be entitled to take leave for pregnancy-related appointments or potential complications.

Here are some key points to remember about FMLA:

  • Leave duration: Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period.
  • Benefits continuation: You can choose whether or not to continue health insurance while on leave.
  • Pay options: Short-term disability insurance or accrued paid leave could be used to supplement income during this period.

It’s important to note that FMLA covers unpaid leave. While it protects your job, it doesn’t guarantee pay during your absence. Discussing these details and any potential options with your employer is crucial.

Your surrogacy agreement should include payment for any wages lost during your journey and throughout the postpartum period. It should also include a short-term disability (STD) plan to be secured on your behalf.  This plan can provide a portion of your regular income in case you need to take time off work due to physician-ordered bed rest or other pregnancy-related complications.

Preparing for the conversation

Ideally, talk to your employer before you’re visibly pregnant. This allows for a more open and proactive discussion. The surrogacy process requires more appointments and monitoring than a typical pregnancy. Be prepared to discuss the possibility of needing flexible scheduling or time off for these appointments throughout your journey. Prepare your message by outlining the key points of your surrogacy journey, including:

  • Your commitment to your work: Express your dedication to your job and highlight how you plan to manage your responsibilities throughout the pregnancy.
  • Anticipated timeline: Discuss the expected duration of the pregnancy and potential leave requirements.
  • Open communication: Emphasize your willingness to keep your employer informed throughout the process.

Be prepared for questions. Common concerns may include workload management or potential medical needs during pregnancy. Having answers or solutions ready can demonstrate your planning and professionalism.

Tips for the discussion

Now that you’ve prepared the groundwork, here are some key tips to ensure a smooth and productive conversation with your employer:

  • Straightforwardness and Professionalism: Maintain a clear and professional tone throughout the conversation. Use straightforward language to explain your surrogacy journey and its potential impact on your work.
  • Managing Emotions: Surrogacy is an emotional experience. While it’s fine to express your excitement, maintain professional boundaries and keep the focus on the practical aspects of your work during this conversation.
  • Offering Reassurance: Anticipate concerns about potential disruptions to your workflow. Offer solutions such as delegating tasks temporarily or adjusting deadlines in advance.

Remember, open communication and planning are key to navigating your workplace while embarking on this incredible act of selflessness.

Your privacy and disclosure

You have the right to decide how much you share about your surrogacy experience with your colleagues. Focus on what’s relevant to your employer, like potential leave needs.

While some curiosity from coworkers is natural, you also have the right to maintain your privacy. Be polite but firm about deflecting questions that go beyond work requirements.

After the announcement

Documenting agreements with your employer is a good practice. This could be a simple email summarizing key points discussed, such as potential leave arrangements.

As the pregnancy progresses, you may need to adjust your workload or responsibilities. Keep open communication with your employer regarding any modifications needed. Building a support system at work can also be helpful. Let trusted colleagues know about your surrogacy journey and potential limitations.

Be proactive for a positive experience

Communicating openly with your employer can help ensure a smooth and positive experience throughout your surrogacy journey. By understanding your rights and focusing on open communication, you can confidently maintain your work life while participating in this incredible act of selflessness.

Are you ready to begin your gestational surrogacy journey and help build a family for intended parents? Contact Fairfax Surrogacy today! Our experienced team can guide you through every step of the process, from initial inquiries to finding the perfect match. Submit your application today to learn more and get started on making a difference in someone’s life.

 

Surrogacy in the Workplace FAQs

  • Can my employer deny me FMLA leave for surrogacy?
    No, if you qualify for FMLa under the eligibility requirements, your employer cannot deny you FMLA leave. This applies as long as you have worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and the company has at least 50 employees within 75 miles. Surrogacy-related medical appointments and conditions can qualify as a reason for FMLA leave, just as they would for a typical pregnancy.
  • Can your job fire you for being a surrogate?
    No, your job cannot legally fire you simply for being a surrogate. In the United States, several laws protect pregnant employees, including surrogates, from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. These protections are outlined in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which states that pregnancy-related conditions must be treated the same as other temporary illnesses or conditions under any health or disability insurance or sick leave plan. Additionally, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for pregnancy-related conditions and childbirth, which includes time off for surrogacy. The FMLA also protects your job during this leave, meaning you must be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position upon your return. However, as with any employment law situation, the specifics can depend on the circumstances, including your employer's policies and the state in which you live. Some states may have additional protections for surrogates. If you're concerned about your job security as a surrogate, it may be beneficial to consult with a legal professional who specializes in employment or family law to understand your rights fully.
  • What should I do if I experience discrimination at work due to my status as a surrogate?
    If you believe you are facing discrimination because of your decision to be a surrogate, you should report the incident to your HR department immediately. Additionally, you might want to consult with a lawyer who specializes in employment or surrogacy law to understand your rights and possible actions you can take. Documentation of any incidents can also be crucial in these situations.
  • Are there any specific laws protecting surrogates in the workplace beyond FMLA?
    Specific laws protecting surrogates can vary significantly depending on your state. Some states have more comprehensive protections for pregnant workers that may extend to surrogates, including laws related to discrimination and accommodation. It is important to research your state’s specific laws or consult with a legal professional to understand the full range of protections available to you.
  • How should I handle my workload as my due date approaches?
    As your due date approaches, it’s wise to start planning for your absence. Discuss with your manager and team how your responsibilities will be handled while you are on leave. It can be helpful to train colleagues on critical tasks and set up out-of-office workflows. Also, be proactive about adjusting your workload as needed to accommodate any physical or medical challenges as your pregnancy progresses.
  • What if my employer asks for details about the surrogacy that I'm not comfortable sharing?
    You have the right to decide how much information you want to share about your surrogacy. If your employer asks for details that you feel are unnecessary or intrusive, politely decline to share those details. You can focus on providing only the information that pertains directly to your work arrangements, such as the expected timeline and any potential need for adjustments to your schedule or duties.